With all the chatter on Thursday of the proposed reform to the championship, it took our focus away a little bit from the exciting double header in Croke Park on Saturday, writes Ray Silke.

After the relatively poor attendances last weekend, on both days, the GAA hierarchy will be delighted to see the full-house signs going up on Saturday afternoon.

The atmosphere should be electric and hopefully both games will offer lots of entertainment and good football for the paying punters, the viewers and listeners at home as the championship could do with a boost.

First up is Mayo and Ulster champions Tyrone at 4pm.

Both teams went out at the All-Ireland semi-final stage last year with Tyrone going down by 0-18 to 1-11 to Kerry, and Mayo bowing out to Dublin 3-15 to 1-14 in the replay.

Almost 12 months later and Tyrone would appear to be an improved and more settled team than they were - and a team with genuine aspirations of getting a crack at an All-Ireland final.

They showed real mettle and All-Ireland championship credentials with their narrow triumph over Donegal in the Ulster final.

Seán Cavanagh's stupendous points during that contest showed majestic leadership qualities and Peter Harte's magnificent effort from distance at the end to give them a one-point lead deserved to win any sporting encounter, in any code.

Peter Harte

Mickey Harte will look to the likes of Justin McMahon, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron and Colm Cavanagh to make sure that Mayo do not get in for any goals to provide belief to the red and green cause.

Tyrone have a real energy about them at the moment and when they turn over the ball on the opposition, players like Mattie Donnelly, Tiernan McCann, Peter Harte, Niall Sludden and Conor McAliskey can break at serious speed to do real damage at the other end.

Tyrone have an impressive bench

Tyrone have an impressive bench and men who can come into the game and make a big impact.

Guys like Darren McCurry and Mark Bradley, who both started and scored against Kerry last August, will be well revved up to really have a cut of the Mayo rearguard when they get the call.

Harte and his panel will have targeted this weekend over the past few weeks since the Ulster final success and they will have their defensive strategy nailed down and the players will know exactly what is expected of them.

Having watched Mayo a few times in the championship, I am not so sure we can say the same thing about them. They still seem to be finding their way under Stephen Rochford.

They were extremely poor against Galway in Connacht and while they are on the back of a few wins in the qualifiers since then, and perhaps had tailored their training to be in good shape for the All-Ireland quarter-finals - we will have to see a lot more energy, work-rate and sustained intensity than we have heretofore if they are going to take Tyrone out this weekend.

They looked fairly ropey at the back last Saturday when Westmeath ran at them and the loss of Ger Cafferkey through injury for the season still leaves a gap in the full-back line.

Diarmuid O'Connor is a crucial player for them and when he is not 100% they are without one of their best link men and forwards.

Diarmuid O'Connor

Even if Diarmuid is selected, there has to be doubts over his fitness after not being able to feature at all only seven days ago.

Aidan O'Shea has not looked like the player he was in 2015 either, and unless he can find his mojo fairly quickly then Mayo will be down one of their key offensive weapons. 

Mayo have had inconsistent periods in all their championship games so far and that is a major worry for them. 

Perhaps the challenge of facing Tyrone with a full-house in Croker and a place in the last four against Tipperary can inspire Stephen Rochford's team, however, I don't think they have the fire-power or running power at midfield to blow Tyrone out of the championship race.

It will be a Tyrone win for me.

How good are Dublin this year?

We have not really learnt much about Dublin so far from their perennial and increasingly predictable and underwhelming collection of the Delaney Cup.

However, there are indisputable questions lingering about their full-back line in the absence of current All-Star Rory O'Carroll and Laois did put them under pressure in that area when they got ball in there early.

If Paddy McBrearty can maintain the form he showed last weekend in his stunning performance in the defeat of Cork, and Donegal can get ball into him, we will know a lot more about how big a loss O'Carroll is by 7.30pm tomorrow evening.

Paddy McBrearty

There will also surely be a really big temptation for Donegal manager Rory Gallagher to locate Michael Murphy in the deep red zone for a while too and see if that duo can unsettle the Dublin full-back line and get in for a goal or two.

Donegal have found it hard to find the net in their five championship games so far, however their goal threat would be increased significantly if their team captain and talisman could be planted at the edge of the square for large periods of the game.

You are robbing Peter to pay Paul, however it could be the way to go. 

Seeing Murphy in full-flow bearing down on Stephen Cluxton would be a great duel. 

The Ulster men scored 3-14 when they beat Dublin in 2014 and a similar scoreline would probably see them do so again this weekend.

Ryan McHugh hit two of those goals two years ago and Dublin will assign someone to make sure that he is not given that kind of freedom again.

Despite the real threat that Donegal pose, I am not convinced that the more mature Donegal defenders -such as the McGees, Karl Lacey, and Anthony Thompson - will have the legs and stamina to stay with the Dublin forwards for the full 70 minutes plus.

These guys have gone to the well a good few times this season already, in the two championship games against Monaghan and the Ulster final and last weekend against Cork.

Will they have the energy, desire, raw hunger and mobility for the fray to stick with Connolly, Flynn, Brogan, Kilkenny, Rock, McManamon, Fenton and a few new lads into the last quarter?

It will probably be a tight encounter for the first 50/55 minutes and the absence of O' Carroll, Jack McCaffrey and perhaps James McCarthy weakens Jim Gavin's hand considerably - however I expect that the home side will have the forward class and superior bench to finish out the game strongly and set up a semi-final with Kerry.

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